Mat­tress Firm sues Col­liers of­fice, 3 ex­ecs

Chain claims At­lanta bro­ker paid kick­backs by in­flat­ing store rents.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - BUSINESS - By Michael E. Kanell mkanell@ajc.com

A na­tional re­tail mat­tress chain has sued an At­lanta-based com­mer­cial real es­tate bro­ker, al­leg­ing a scheme of fraud and kick­backs.

Mat­tress Firm, a 3,500-store chain, charged Col­liers In­ter­na­tional’s At­lanta of­fice, a se­nior vice pres­i­dent and two for­mer ex­ec­u­tives in the of­fice, with in­flat­ing rents paid by the com­pany stores, as well as “bribes, high-priced gifts and kick­backs from de­vel­op­ers,” ac­cord­ing to Bis­now, an in­ter­net web­site de­voted to news about com­mer­cial real es­tate.

More than 800 stores were al­legedly in­volved, ac­cord­ing to Bis­now, which re­ported that the ex­ec­u­tives in­cluded in the suit are Bruce Levy and Ryan Vin­son.

The At­lanta Busi­ness Chron­i­cle has also re­ported the suit.

An at­tor­ney for Alexan­der Deitch, the se­nior vice pres­i­dent, told Bis­now that his client de­nied the charges. The at­tor­ney said that he ex­pected the two other ex­ec­u­tives to deny the charges as well.

The suit was filed in a filed in Texas court last month.

The charges re­volve around an al­leged ar­range­ment in which many prop­er­ties were owned by a small group of de­vel­op­ers who re­ceived in­flated rents from Mat­tress Firm and then paid kick­backs to Col­liers, Levy and Vin­son.

Mat­tress Firm has not named a dol­lar fig­ure for the dam­ages it be­lieves it sus­tained and wishes in com­pen­sa­tion, but the suit men­tions pay­ments amount­ing to more than $40 mil­lion beyond the true mar­ket value of the prop­er­ties, Bis­now re­ported.

The web­site said Levy and Vin­son were fired last year as an in­quiry into the deals be­gan.

Sources told Deitch that he has been let go from Col­liers. He is no longer listed as part of the lead­er­ship team on the com­pany web­site, al­though his LinkedIn page still iden­ti­fies him as a Col­liers SVP.

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